Friday Faves for a Summer Day

Jul 24

I’ll confess: while I enjoy reading posts that are mini narrative essays, I really love a link list post. So here’s a middle of the summer list of loveliness for you to enjoy, including some classes that look awesome…because summer, in my mind, is for learning fun new things!

Hipsta housedresses

Photo by Gale Zucker

Coming up next weekend, you can have a mini photography retreat with Gale Zucker at the awesome A Gathering of Stitches.

Perhaps the most cleverly named workshop of all time, Say Cheese, is a foodie/photographer’s dream. In early August Gale will pair up with Arline Conigliaro to teach you to make mozzarella, wood fired pizzas, and photographs that will make them irresistible to all the Internet!

Make Your Own Dress Immersion with Cal Patch. I have concert tickets for that August weekend…otherwise I would be there. If you are in the area and want to learn from an awesome teacher, this class promises to be amazing!

Savor Your Summertime* ecourse with Courtney Carver. I adore everything Courtney creates. Her sensibility is serene and smart, and I’m excited to take this affordable course…I’ve been having a little anxious feeling that summer is slipping away from me, and it is too early in the season to give in to that! Extra special loveliness: when you sign up, you can invite a friend to join you for free!

Through the Loops Summer shawl KAL. My talented and generous friend Kirsten is offering a 20% discount on a long list of her shawl patterns–all of them perfect summer knitting. The hardest part is deciding which shawl to make, but I promise you can’t go wrong with any of them!

Emily Nora O’Neil is at last offering her beautiful “from the sea” necklaces for sale. I met Emily at last year’s Fiber College workshop, and I couldn’t take my eyes from the stunning, elegant necklace she wore. Her Instagram feed is filled with equally elegant pictures, and when she posted about her shop, I jumped at the chance to call one of her beauties my own.

Brazilian Lemonade. I may want to drink this every day.

Tress by one of my favorite authors Larissa Brown. Her newest piece is a grim, gorgeous fairy tale that I have not stopped thinking about since I first read it. Perfect for an after noon (maybe while sipping a Brazilian lemonade?)

Fiber College draws nigh! Gale and I are teaching two classes this year, and there are loads of other terrific teachers with interesting classes. If you’re like me, it helps ease the sorrow of summer’s end when there’s a fun event to look forward to!

Want some sheep meet Maine island pictures? Gale’s

Nash Island post cards are gorgeous and available now.

Your turn: share your lovely links in the comments!

 

 

*Please note, this is an affiliate link. I believe with all of my heart in the value of Courtney’s work and am sure it will be a terrific experience for you!

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Ten on Tuesday: American Artists Edition

Jul 21

Two weeks ago I visited the New Britain Museum of American Art to see their Elizabeth Gage exhibit. After the dizzying glory of stunning jewelry, I took a turn around the permanent collection and was reminded of many American artists I admire. Carole‘s prompt to share ten American artists or paintings I liked is perfectly timed! Here’s a short list, in no particular order (not all of them are in the museum’s collection!).

John Singer Sargent: Oh, the stories his portraits tell!

Andrew Wyeth: so many of his paintings leave me feeling serene.

Willem de Kooning: his work scares me a little, like art should at times.

Linda Jean Fisher: Linda Jean’s work is incredible. Her dedication and precision amaze me.

Jackson Pollock: what he does to make chaos visual rocks my world. I get lost when I look at his paintings in person.

Michael Patterson: Michael’s style, so full of motion and great character development, transports me to the scenes he portrays.

Cy Twombly: the curves, the colors, the letters. Swoon!

Sol LeWitt: this conceptual artist’s work made me understand line in a way I never had before. Plus he was a Yankee, just like me!

Mark Rothko: just as Sol LeWitt made me understand line, Rothko taught me how color can come to life.

Cindy Sherman:  Her portraits provoke me!

How about you? Who are some of your favorite American artists?

 

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Ethical Elegance: Sewing Skills

Jun 18

fabricOne of my few regrets is not having been a better student in Home Economics. I was in middle school and not much interested in such things. Goodness, I set a potholder on fire (not on purpose!) in the Home Ec kitchen. And even though I’m sure part of me craved sewing skills, I was in no mental or emotional place to develop them during those tumultuous years.

Things are different now. I learned a little about sewing clothes in my early 20s, but my garments never had polish nor did they fit right. After taking Cal’s pattern drafting class at Brooklyn General, my excitement about sewing has increased every week. My plan is to build my sewing skills this summer as a way to build my ethical, elegant wardrobe.

I confess to a bit of a pattern-buying frenzy. Here are some of the pieces I plan to make:

Anna Maria Horner’s Painted Portrait Dress. I’m following the Alabama Chanin adaptations.

Colette Sorbetto top. This pattern is free, and I’ll be using the gray and blue fabrics pictured above.

Factory Dress by Merchant and Mills. I ordered my pattern from Clementine, and if you call, lovely Leah will also help you pick out just the right fabric. I’m using the red pictured above.

Wiksten Tank. I haven’t selected a fabric for this yet. I think it will be a good top to wear with my skinny jeans.

Everyday skirt from Liesl & Co. I wear skirts all the time. In fact, I rarely wear pants to work, and almost never wear shorts in the summer. It’s all dresses and skirts all the time around here. I am hoping this may be one I can master and make in casual and work-appropriate fabrics.

A-frame skirt from Blueprint Patterns. The shape of this is so smart. Can’t you see it with boots and a big sweater in the winter?

I made one of Sonya’s 100 Acts of Sewing Skirt No. 1, and I love the fit of the pattern, and Sonya’s instructions are easy to follow. In fact, I was so smitten with the skirt, I dug through my back issues of Taproot and made her tunic in issue 8.

As so much of the wardrobe I’ve nursed through years of minimalish dressing starts to look shabby, I’m excited to replace it with garments I construct myself.  I’m eager to build my sewing skills, and I’ll be relying a lot on the Clementine Pinterest boards. I fully intend to make up for those middle school years!

What are you stitching this summer? Any sewing patterns you think I should see?

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Frida

Jun 02

Frida

Imagine hot air, lush plants, vibrant colors. As I walked through the New York Botanical Garden Frida Kahlo exhibit, I was transported to the artist’s world. The exhibit includes a replica of Casa Azul’s garden as well as a gallery of her work. I especially loved the drawings included.

Despite living in Westchester County for 14 years, I never once visited the NYBG. From Grand Central, it is a quick train ride on the Harlem line. Now that I know, I suspect an annual visit will be in order!

Joyce braceletMaybe the best part of the day was seeing it all with my pal Joyce. She’s a writer, artist, adventurer, and I loved spending time with her as we refilled our creative wells. She pointed out a textile (weaving and embroidery) demo, and after I peppered the artists with questions, we each selected a woven bracelet to remember the day. Friendship bracelets on my mind? I guess so!

What have you seen lately that fills your creative well? I’d love to hear about exhibits, movies…anything!

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Birth of a Book: Meet Damian Alexander

May 27

Last semester I had the pleasure of working with Damian Alexander in my Freelancer class. Damian, who recently graduated, is a talented illustrator, and a skilled writer. Among Damian’s many projects, he has written a children’s book (that’s just right for adults, too) with an important message. I asked him to talk about it a little: 

DAWhen I look at kids I almost instantly see myself. I see who I was and how I felt and what I thought about when I was that age. I see myself and my cousins and my friends and every kid I knew growing up in every kid I see. Over time I’ve developed this thing in the back of my head where I want to protect every one. Especially the ones who I know are going to have a rougher time with the life they’ve been given. Seeing as I can’t physically put them all into a bubble of safety, I started writing about them.

In my soon-to-be-published picture book I Want a Kid and I Don’t Care I focused on children looking to be adopted. The idea was sparked when I came across a wallin a furniture store with photos of kids looking for families. I found out that it primarily consisted of “harder to place” kids. On hearing that I instantly got sad and wished I could adopt them all, but I can’t do that at this time in my life. So I wrote a book. Through the lighthearted rhyme and colorful illustrations I wielded a story about unconditional love. Throughout its pages the book reiterates the idea that differences don’t matter, whether the child you have looks different from you or has a disability or is transgender or wants to do ballet when all you know is soccer. It just doesn’t matter.

All that does matter is love.

Over a year ago I dug through my illustrations and found just one of a little girl in acrylic paint on paper. I had found the style for my book. For the following year I worked on painting the illustrations and revising the story several times. Until finally I had it finished, printed and in my hands.

Now I need your help to make it a reality. Getting one copy printed is simple but getting funds for multiple printings and distribution takes a bit of help. I recently launched a Kickstarter where you can pledge and help support this project while getting a copy of the book or some art in the process.

Additionally for every book distributed through the Kickstarter, I will donate $2 to the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Association, which inspired the project. They’re an organization focused on placing all types children with the perfect family; they’re also open to single parent households and LGBTQ couples.

I hope you’ll consider supporting Damian’s book, at any level you can. If you’re interested in reading more about him, check out his interview on Alaina Marie’s Keys and read his blog

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Mid-May Friday Faves

May 22

impavid

I’ve gathered some links for lovely things to read, to make, to buy.

  • I’m taking a class to learn Uncial calligraphy, and this week my postcard project (if you haven’t signed up for one, there’s still room!) has focused on practicing it by writing an interesting word on a watercolor background. Want to read a few interesting words? Check out this site!
  • Speaking of postcards, Gale’s Nash Island postcards are back in stock! I include one when I send a package to a fiber-loving friend, but mainly I gaze at them (especially those two lambs in front of the barn!) and am transported for a few minutes to a happy, peaceful place.
  • My former student Damian is a talented illustrator and writer and a beautiful human. He’s written a book called I Want a Kid and I Don’t Care. Take a look at his Kickstarter video. The book is done; Damian is raising funds for the costs associated with publishing. If you know someone with foster or adopted kids or someone who is thinking of fostering or adopting kids, this makes a sweet gift. I’ll be posting more about Damian soon!
  • It’s time for Through the Loops MKAL shawl! Kirsten’s patterns are so clear and always elegant. Did you see her recommended yarn? Another fave:
  • Dragonfly Fiber Pixie. I wound my two skeins last weekend, and it is so hard to wait until June 1 to cast on! Oh, what colors did I pick? Wine Country and Sixteen Candles (Molly Ringwald 4-evah, yo).
  • Want more pretty yarn and shawl combos? Check out the Sundara Petals Collection. Kirsten and my new chum Thea both have patterns in the collection. And: cashmere!
  • Last week I put out feelers on social media to see if there is interest in another friendship bracelet swap for grown ups. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in playing summer camp again this year! In the meantime, you can grab a sweet deal on a set of Et Voila Design’s version of friendship bracelets here! The April special is continuing for some extra time, just for you!
  • One of the things I love about summer break is that the teacher gets to be a student. I took Cal’s Pattern Drafting class in NYC at the beginning of the month (it’s also available on Creativebug). If you have a chance to take any class with her, do eet! She is a patient, wonderful teacher. I’m eager to be her student again!

Your turn: leave a link to a fave of your own!

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Ethical Elegance: Birkenstocks

May 07

Seriously. Even five years ago, I would not have considered bringing Birkenstocks into my closet. You might think it was the NY Times approval that changed my mind, but, no. Last summer before I left for my trip to Scotland and France, I considered the Gizeh as my research showed me they were favored by the ever-elegant French women. As a Birkvirgin, though, I didn’t want to order online birkwithout knowing more about the fit. So the Gizeh crush subsided as shopping-related crushes often do.

Until I drew up my packing list for a visit to Wilmington, NC in April.

I was due for new sandals. And I wanted shoes that would last, that would look adorable with jeans or dresses, that would be comfortable, that were ethical.

I asked my style guru Heather which Birk to start with, and her answer: Mayari. I visited a local retailer and tried on a few sizes. I’m usually between a 7 and 8, depending on the manufacturer. I went with the 37 (in Uggs, for comparison, I wear 38) and the antique lace color. I couldn’t be more pleased. The foot bed is already conformed to my foot, making this shoe delightfully comfortable.

And here’s another thing. Birkenstock is a company that’s been around since the 18th century, and they’re still made in Germany.

Here’s another thing. While I have found it difficult to give up leather (I know, I know…I’m trying), the Birks I own are vegan. And that feels really ethical to me.

And suprisingly elegant.

What has surprised you as a piece you’ve grown to love in your wardrobe?

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